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Workwise program changing how we think about work

HEATHER HILL
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO

What we do for work shapes both our outlook on life and our perceptions of self-worth. But how do we find the job that both satisfies our ambitions and will benefit by our contributions? Cynthia Lindsey, facilitator of the NW Catholic Counseling Center’s new Workwise workshop, offers insight into how best to apply ourselves, “Most folks believe that whatever they did for pay, whatever that list of tasks were, that they are bound to those experiences for a career choice. That isn’t the case.”

The flagship workshop, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., welcomes the underemployed and unemployed, specifically targeting single mothers, to expand their prospects for the future.

“It’s a self-discovery-type environment,” Lindsey said. “If you don’t have the good kernels that are going into the resume, it’s painful to try to write one, and the only way to get at that stuff that’s in there is to go through a service of self-discovery exercises with a group.

“This whole workshop, this entire point, is to get outside the box and look at your work differently. We all have contributions to make. We need to decide what that is going to be because the happier we are at work and the more joy we get out of it, the more we have to contribute and the happier we are as people.”

Held at the NW Catholic Counseling Center at 8383 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Suite 205, for a nominal fee of $15, the workshop will open with a personal inventory, which Lindsey said, “Gives you an idea of where you get your energy, how you make decisions, how much structure you prefer in your world.”

From there participants will break into small groups to share past work experiences and to draw patterns of career strengths. After pinpointing these assets, Lindsey will discuss how to articulate them on a resume and go over interview techniques. Lindsey also plans to invite guest speakers from the Women’s Resource Center at Portland Community College and the Career Center at PCC Cascade to introduce available career planning and training services.

Formerly the associate dean of students at Concordia University, Lindsey’s responsibilities included career counseling. She now works as a real estate broker for Keller Williams Realty, which affords her the time to contribute to workshops outside the university setting.

Involved in the NW Catholic Counseling Center’s Circle of Strength luncheon for a number of years, she felt “it didn’t seem enough to just host a table. I wanted to do something more, and my area of expertise that lends itself to the center is career counseling. This is perfect because I can get involved here to do the things that I love to do.”

The Circle of Strength luncheon held every October raises funds for single mothers at the poverty level in need of counseling. “One of our goals is to grow that program out.” Barbara Kennedy, director of the NW Catholic Counseling Center explained. “Oftentimes these moms are unemployed, or think they are unemployable. We want them to be independent and self-sufficient, which is hard to do if you don’t have a job.”

The NW Catholic Counseling Center has helped individuals, families and couples of all religions for over 20 years. Now that the center has taken on new space and expanded its staff to include eight counselors and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, the center seeks to add more programs to accompany the successful pre-marriage classes already offered. By taking on more staff and space, it has effectively reduced the waiting list, and the staff already works hard to ensure no one gets turned away due to financial issues.

But, Kennedy said, “I was thinking we were still probably not doing enough” for single mothers. She explained that she wanted to expand the program but didn’t know what to do next, “until (Lindsey) gave us the next piece.”

“There’s nothing I have ever enjoyed more than facilitating these types of workshops,” Lindsey said.

Entering the workplace can be an intimidating process for anyone regardless of education or expertise. The NW Catholic Counseling Center offers more than advice and insight; the staff exemplifies the process.

Kennedy described learning about the struggles of the underemployed and unemployed when she opened the center all those years ago. “At first you stumble around looking for the light switch and wondering how you’re going to pay for the electricity once the light comes on, and then you get your head above water and you think, I can do this, and we keep doing it better and better.”

The registration deadline for the Workwise workshop is Jan. 25; register through the NW Catholic Counseling Center at 503-253-0964.
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